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Portobello and Farro Salad

It’s that time of year, where we hold our bellies and groan, “I’m sooo over sweets — I’ll never eat that much junk again.”

This shallow promise will be broken by mid-January, but for now, I can’t look at another cookie, people. Not one. Not even from a distance. Cakes and cheesecakes make me want to yak. Me and chocolate have agreed on a temporary separation.

No, SoupAddict and plain, whole grain cereal have been best buddies this week. BFFs to the first degree.

And vegetables. Gorgeous, colorful, savory vegetables. They’re friends, too. Oh, and Hello, dried cranberries. You’re welcome here. You, too, walnuts.

And grains. SoupAddict craves da grains.

Meet Farro. Farro is a wheat of ancient origin, grown now most commonly in Italy. Similar to barley and wheatberries, it looks like brown rice when cooked, but with a slight crunch and a sweet, nutty flavor. And it’s expensive as all get out (about $8/lb). If you’re lucky, your local Whole Foods will carry it in their bulk bins.

Or, if you’re really lucky, you live in Italy so you can find it at the corner grocery. (That and, oh, you live in Italy.)

Toasting really brings out the flavor of walnuts. Sweetens them somehow. But not in a cookie way. Blech. Cookies.

SoupAddict loves how winter meals need not be orange and brown all the time. Orange and brown can be wonderful, but like post-Christmas sweets, sometimes, you just need a break.

Serve while the mushrooms are still hot, but the salad is room temperature. Or, if you’re like SoupAddict and room temperature is somewhere south of 65° in the winter, toss it in the oven for 5 minutes to take the chill off.

Portobello and Farro Salad


4 cups water
1 cup farro (semi-pearled is easiest to find and cook)
4 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
1/4 cup dried cranberries
4 green onions, sliced
1 shallot, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 large portobello mushroom, stem removed, sliced into 1/4″ slices
salt and pepper to taste

Bring 4 cups water and farro to boil in medium saucepan over high heat. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until tender, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes (if using regular farro, cooking time could be up to 30 to 40 minutes). Drain.

In a small bowl, mix together the vinegars and honey, then drizzle in 3 tablespoons of oil and whisk to combine. Mix farro, parsley, cranberries, onions, shallot, and garlic in medium bowl. Add the honey vinegar mixture and stir until well combined. Season generously with salt and pepper. (Can be made 2 hours ahead up to this point. Let stand at room temperature.)

Toast chopped walnuts in a saute pan over medium heat. Stir frequently until golden brown and fragrant. Add to the farro mixture. Taste the salad and add salt and pepper as necessary.

Heat remaining oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Lightly brush mushroom slices with additional olive oil on both sides. Add the mushroom slices to the hot pan. Cook the mushrooms about 3 minutes each side, or until the mushrooms are deeply golden brown, but not limp. Remove to cutting board and slice into 1″ wide pieces. Top the salad with the mushroom pieces (stirring some in, and then leaving some to spread around the top). Serve salad at room temperature.


Tuesday 4th of January 2011

Always glad to find a new way for a tasty salad!!


Thursday 30th of December 2010

I'm new to your site and was reading recent posts. I was looking at the Moroccan Carrot Salad, and noticed you said something about a food processor. I've been looking into one, and have a list of many. What brand do you have? Do you like it? Answers to these questions would be very helpful on my part!

Thanks, Marissa


Thursday 30th of December 2010

Hi Marissa, Thank you for visiting! I own a Cuisinart 9-Cup Food Processor. I really like it for certain things: making pie dough or certain kinds of cookie dough, grating/slicing veggies (especially in large quantities, like the carrot salad), chopping nuts or other hard items finely (I've even made almond flour from blanched almonds).

I'm less impressed with certain blending tasks, like chopping up different sized "wet" items for a sauce or salsa: for example, there always seems to be large chunks of onions along with over-pureed, liquidy onion bits. But, frankly, I don't know there's another model I would've picked over this one. The 14-cup model with the multiple bowls looked interesting, but it was overkill for my purposes - I never would've used all those parts, and it wouldn't have fit in the little cubby hole that the 9-cup occupies.

Hope that helps!


foodies at home

Thursday 30th of December 2010

What a fabulous looking salad! I bet the flavors are wonderful together!


Thursday 30th of December 2010

Thank you! The nice thing about this dish is that even the refrigerated leftovers are delicious.


Wednesday 29th of December 2010

Do you mean that there is food that doesn't involve five pounds of butter, three bags of sugar, eight cups of chocolate and three gallons of heavy cream???? Sign me up please! Actually, my craving this week has been plain old rice. Nothing on it. Just rice.

I have to drive about 40 minutes to find a store that carries farro or quinoa - but it is worth the trip for such happy little grains. Oh, the joys of living next to nowhere...

Happy New Year!


Thursday 30th of December 2010

I'm sitting here at my desk shoving raw cauliflower into my gob. Plain rice, mild vegetables - this is what I'm craving these days. Usually the sweets-aversion waits until after New Year's - I guess I was extra bad this year!


Wednesday 29th of December 2010

(well, we may be able to buy Farro from the grocer next door, but living in Italy isn't that sweet after all - just two words: Prime Minister.... :( Just sayin')


Thursday 30th of December 2010

Oh, Marcella, I know - it's just travel envy. I've never been to Italy, so it's very easy for me to dream about the romantic countrysides and fabulous old cities, while ignoring the reality of politics and government and the economy.